I shared with y’all on Instagram the other month that we’ve unfortunately been dealing with a food allergy for Bridget. I am sharing our story in hopes of 1. helping spread knowledge in recognizing if your little one is suffering from one and you don’t realize it. Sometimes it can be super noticeable and sometimes not so much. The quicker you are aware of it the sooner you can help their sweet self. 2. I would love your support and positive stories (ok- not just the positive ones, the truth) you’ve experienced if your love also has food allergies.
It goes without saying, I am no pro. I am not an allergist or a doctor. I am simply sharing my daughter’s food allergy experience. It is not my intention at all to worry you, I’m just trying to help educate you on experiences out there. The more we are aware of, the better off we are.
So, I’m the mom that has introduced all foods individually (especially high allergen ones) just in case if she were to have a reaction, I would be able to immediately pinpoint the culprit. I wanted to introduce egg to Bridget for the first time. I had never even given her baked goods before because as I stated above, I like to introduce foods individually (especially high allergen ones) and as we know, most baked goods contain eggs. Her first birthday was coming up and a little voice inside my head said just in case she is allergic to eggs, I would rather find out now than on her first birthday stuffing her face with cake and our very special day being ruined by lack of information.
So, I scrambled one egg for her. In avocado oil (because I know she devours avocados on the reg like no one’s business and she surely wasn’t allergic to those. Told you, I’m that mom that thinks of every little thing.) Anyway, she ate about 1/2 – 3/4 of the scrambled egg. 40 minutes later she threw it up. It wasn’t just spit up and it wasn’t projectile vomiting either. Let’s just say all the eggs dribbled out of her mouth whole. I knew via research ahead of time that was a sign of a reaction for a baby, but I didn’t let myself get worried in case it was a fluke. I was also trying to be optimistic that we were about 40 minutes out instead of it happening within the first 30, trying to convince myself it wasn’t related – yet also knew it my gut to keep an extra eye out. She hadn’t spit up since she was a newborn and she’s never thrown up before. So something was about to be up.
I took her to run some errands (#girltime #mommyandme) and while I was pushing her in the stroller, I could tell she just didn’t have her normal joyful energy. She just seemed more out of it and blah. I took her home and put her down for a nap. When she woke up she felt hot. I started to get concerned, but let some time go by in case she just was warm simply from taking a long nap. I checked her temperature about 30 minutes later because she was still hot and she had a 100.9 degrees F rectal temp. Hello, fever. I had read about throwing up, I had read about being lethargic, but no where did I see fever as a potential factor. Now to some of you, you may not consider 100.9 a fever, but that’s the very first number that is considered a fever via rectal temp. Plus, Bridget usually is always around 97 degrees F. She always is on the lower side with her resting temperature. So for her, this was most certainly a fever. (Once again a mother’s intuition moment. You know your baby best. Period.)
Here’s where mama bear has to kick in with instincts. Do I belittle these three symptoms that I so easily could convince myself “she’s fine” or do I know in my gut something is up. Well, I just knew something was up. I called our pediatrician and set an appointment to be there in an hour.
We had just recently traveled to Florida and despite me trying my best to keep her as germ-free as possible while traveling, (hello wiping everything down with Purell wipes), you know when it comes to airplanes and borrowing a crib there is only so much you can do. So I gave all this info to the doctor hoping she had just caught a little bug. The doctor instantly felt it was allergy. She knew we had traveled, she heard everything I had said, but her red flag went up and she wasn’t convinced it wasn’t egg related and wanted us to move forward with testing.
I gave her Tylenol and her low-grade fever was still there an hour later. But then thankfully broke and never returned. She had no rash, no hives, no trouble breathing (Thank God.) Those were her only three symptoms. But they lasted for almost two full days. She wasn’t her normal playful, happy self. I then started to even wonder if it was a stomach bug since it was lingering, but poor baby, it was just still stuck in her system. The next day she even was gagging on foods she always had eaten and had no problem with previously. Her body was just not happy with basically anything after the eggs bothered her system. Later the first night, she even had one diarrhea diaper after her fever broke.
Once the big wave of symptoms over those first 48 hours thankfully passed, I clearly saw lingering symptoms for over a week. She had minor eczema under her neck she would scratch. She had terrible night wakings, waking up uncomfortable, just wanting to be loved on and it was super hard to console her. (And this is coming from the girl who always sleeps 12 hours a night uninterrupted.) Something was up. I knew her body was still bothered from that single egg.
I was still exclusively breastfeeding at the time and I eat dairy in my daily diet. Both the pediatrician and the allergist said to continue eating it like normal since it had never bothered her previously and the importance of her still being introduced to those foods in the tiniest quantities via me. After multiple days and nights of still watching her suffer, I completely removed all dairy from my diet. No cheese, nothing that was cooked in any butter – if it had dairy, it was a hard no. I did that for 4-5 days and I literally watched her body reset back to normal. She was sleeping through the night again, her neck cleared up and she was back to my normal girl. Once we hit reset on her body, I started going completely back to my normal eating habits. Full-blown dairy, everything. And she handled it perfectly just like she always had prior. Thank God because I have more frozen breast milk than you can even begin to fathom and it all contained dairy in it that I had consumed previously.
I trust and respect doctors tremendously. I listen to all of their advice and am a “rule follower.” However, I knew in my mom gut that this allergic reaction sparked a flare-up that was not going to disappear until I got her sweet body back to normal. And I knew that was not going to happen unless all dairy was eliminated, even coming from me. I will note that Bridget never showed any sort of sensitivity whatsoever to any of my breast milk ever prior to consuming the scrambled egg. And at this point, I had been exclusively breastfeeding for 11+ months. I was able to fully breastfeed eating everything I normally do with zero signs of anything ever bothering her. Eating that one scrambled egg truly sparked a flare-up in her precious body and any dairy she got from me heightened it.
*This part is an additional very recent update separate from the previous flare-up a couple months ago. A few days prior to writing this post, Bridget broke out in a rash head to toe. I’m talking scalp, face, chest, belly, back, legs, top of hands and feet. Not hives, a rash. (Yes, there apparently is a difference.) She unfortunately had a reaction to her MMR vaccination due to the vaccine containing egg. Thankfully she never was itchy, feverish, and never steered away from acting her normal personality. So clearly the rash didn’t bother her whatsoever. The pediatrician said due to there being egg in the shot, she was more prone to having a reaction to it because of her egg allergy. I still believe the pros outweigh the potential rare cons with the MMR shot and I was aware of there being egg in the vaccination. This post is not about vaccinating your child, I just want you aware of yet another way this egg allergy has affected her.
We took her for allergy testing via blood work at the pediatrician office where they don’t have to introduce the allergen into their body (like scratch testing) and they draw blood instead and send it off to a lab for testing. She was such a trooper because since she’s a baby, she of course has tiny veins. This is no finger prick mama, this is ‘hey we need a tube of blood.’ They had to use the tourniquet on both arms many times before finding a vein ok enough to aim for. As you can imagine, this was heartbreaking to watch, but she handled it like a champ. She’s an angel babe. We got enough blood to send it off for a full panel of all high allergen foods (eggs, milk, soy, wheat, peanuts, etc.).
The next week we got the results back that she is in fact allergic to both eggs and cow’s milk. There are multiple levels on a scale determining how allergic you are to an allergen, and she falls in the middle category. Which definitely worries me seeing as she’s only been introduced to egg once before and hasn’t even been introduced to cow’s milk yet. And you know how allergens work, the more you introduce them to your body, the worse of a reaction you have each time.
So, the next step was visiting a specialist, an allergist.
Once at the allergist office, he wanted to move forward with scratch testing. You know, the one that looks like a grid of needles that they inject/poke into your body with the allergen? They do a placebo needle and then an actual needle containing the allergen for each food you are testing. We did the testing for both eggs and cow’s milk. Sure enough, both swelled up red and screamed confirmed allergic. Bridget looked so uncomfortable it broke my heart.
HOW WE’RE MOVING FORWARD
Here’s the positive news: 2/3 of babies grow out of their food allergies by the time they’re 2. So we are praying we are on the positive side of that statistic. If you want to say a little prayer that we’re on the good side of that also, please do!
If you don’t have a kid with a food allergy, you may think I’m overreacting to this news, but the bottom line is I want her to be a normal kid. I want her to be able to eat an ice cream cone full of all the good stuff with the biggest, messiest face and grin. I want to let her go play with her little friends and not have to worry if one of them will by accidently give her a bite of something she shouldn’t because they’re trying to be kind and they don’t know she’s allergic – and of course she’s too young to know. I want to be able to let her eat whatever out at a restaurant and not have to ask for every single ingredient – even what it’s sauteed in. I want to be able to whip some pre-made something up like nothing in the kitchen on days I don’t feel like cooking and don’t have to stalk every single ingredient on the box like a hawk. I want to be able to not worry so much about making sure the floors in the kitchen are always clean so she doesn’t eat crumbs while crawling. I want to be able to not make sure we always have our baby epipen on us at all times.
Yes, I am so thankful we are talking allergy, not some disease. I am so grateful she’s healthy. I am grateful we live in a day and age with Whole Foods and Sprouts at our disposal. But, allergies can be serious. They can cause anaphylaxis. They can be life-threatening.
Here’s what we’re doing.
According to theories these days, it is important to still introduce the allergen to their body in ways they can handle it. Yes, each time you introduce an allergen they’re allergic to, their body has a worse reaction. Yet somehow, theory has it that if they can tolerate x amount, then it is best to introduce it to them so they are less likely to go into anaphylaxis one day. Basically, it’s a fine line and you’re playing with fire in my opinion and it terrifies me. We have been going total avoidance of both egg and cow’s milk since we found out the news, until we are under allergist supervision at our next visit. We are doing a “baked egg challenge” in the near future, which basically means we are feeding her baked egg every x minutes for every x hours to see how her body handles it. The allergist is having me bake a specific muffin recipe that has already been pre-portioned out in regard to x% egg baked in compared to the remaining ingredients. It is supposed to last from 7am to noon. This will 100% break my heart and have me so nervous, but I have to trust the doctors know best. I hate that a baby’s allergies are treated like adult allergies. Here she is a 12-month-old having to go in for a 5 hour test without a nap, doing the same thing someone my age would do. If she passes the baked egg challenge, then we get an extra long list of approved ways she can consume baked eggs. (I already have the list in case she passes.) For example, one of the rules is she can have egg listed as an ingredient in a baked good as long as it’s the third ingredient or lower on the nutrition label. She can have baked egg as an ingredient if x% of the serving size contains egg compared to the other x% being other non-egg ingredients. The very specific list goes on and on and there’s math involved and there are tons of regulations involved. It also flat out says she can’t consume any pancakes, waffles, eggs, etc. I won’t bore you with the rest, but you get the picture.
So, to wrap this up, we are currently going total avoidance, and then doing a baked egg challenge at the allergist office. Then we will move forward with caution depending on how her body reacts to the challenge and allergist orders. Then we will have more “challenges” at the allergist office in our future until hopefully we see she has grown out of her allergies.
Also, the doctors are making me have baby epipens with us 24/7. I have one set (because there are two doses) at home in our kitchen and one set in my diaper bag at all times. I had to get prepped on what symptoms to look out for, how to administer, etc. Breaks my heart even holding one. I pray we never have to use it.
Also, in regard to milk, we are using a milk alternative. I will share in a separate blog post in the near future what alternative we are using and why.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
I know this was long-winded, but I’m not skimping out on any detail for the one mama who needs to hear this. If you’re also going through a food allergy with your little, I’m here for you. If you’re just now starting to introduce solids to your baby, I’m here for you. Please know the signs to look out for. It is not my intention at all to worry you, I’m just trying to help educate you on experiences out there. The more we are aware of, the better.
- Please introduce foods separately at the beginning the best you can. Feeding them the same single food for 2-3 days in a row without introducing a new one. If it helps you, keep a food journal on your phone. I always wrote the time I fed and the food I introduced. It really helps you keep track because #mombrain.
- When introducing a top allergen food, administer it in the morning so you have all day to watch their symptoms if they arise and you can go to the pediatrician during office hours if you have to.
- It’s smart to go ahead and have children’s Benadryl as part of your medicine cabinet just in case so you don’t have to frantically run out to a pharmacy mid-reaction with your little.
- This one might sound obvious, but please wash your hands before touching baby food or wiping their mouth clean, etc. I’m not even talking about the obvious germs, I’m talking about cross-contamination of foods. If you were eating something that they’re allergic to and then are touching the food they’re putting in their mouth or wiping their lips with the same napkin you were just using…just think about the little things that might turn into a big thing thanks to allergies.
- If your baby does happen to have an egg allergy specifically, please research vaccinations and talk to your doctor about which vaccines contain egg. They will 99.9% most likely tell you to still go through with the vaccine, but just be aware to keep an extra eye out for their symptoms after receiving. For instance, the MMR vaccination contains egg and Bridget had a minor adverse reaction to it. We knew the MMR vaccine had egg thanks to prior research, but after discussing with our doctor, I believed the pros still outweighed the very small potential of cons with this terrible outbreak currently going on, and we still administered it to her. Off the top of my head, I also believe that flu shots can sometimes contain an egg protein. We were told that allergists tell pediatricians that it shouldn’t even be a concern for kids with egg allergies, and I’m 100% pro vaccinating and Bridget is fully up-to-date on vaccine scheduling – I just want you aware that there can be more of a risk for a reaction vs a child without an egg allergy.
Introducing new solids is such a fun experience! Seriously, please enjoy it! I love watching Bridget’s face light up going to town on food.
As always, I’m here to chat.
Read More »